September 13, 2017 Last Updated 8:15 am

Report: Final bids for Rodale due next week; Public prosecutor to investigate Catalan mayors who support Oct. 1 referendum

Morning Brief: Pre-orders for the iPhone X do not start until October 27, well into Apple’s next quarter, but possibly strategically, just before the next earnings conference call

The auction for the magazine publisher Rodale has been a quiet affair compared to many media M&A ordeals. The reason may simply be, as if often has been for Rodale, that the magazine publisher is headquartered in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, rather than NYC. One could see this kind of bias against magazine publishers outside the Big Apple a few years ago when there were rumors that Meredith might take over Time Inc. titles. Honestly, it wasn’t pretty, and some NYC media reporters came off looking like clichés of the ugly New Yorker.

Rodale’s holdings may appear modest at first glance, but there are several titles other publisher’s wouldn’t mind owning.

Men’s Health, for instance, has a 1.8 million rate base and is one of the more familiar titles. Women’s Health has a 1.5 million rate base. These two titles certainly would fit nicely into Meredith or Hearst’s portfolio.

Runner’s World, with its 660,000 rate base, or the smaller Bicycling might attract a different publisher.

There is nothing to say that the company couldn’t be sold in two separate transactions, but I am sure the seller would want the deals completed simultaneously to avoid a situation where one buyer pulls out at the last minute, leaving Rodale with titles that might have to be shuttered, then sold off for pennies on the dollar.

NY Post, Keith Kelly:

Bids on Rodale to roll in on Monday

Final bids for Rodale, publisher of Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Prevention and other titles, are due to arrive at Allen & Co. Monday.

Hearst is being piped by some as the front-runner, although Meredith is also in the running and nobody is ruling out Allen & Co.’s flushing out a surprise bidder.

Things continue to heat up in Spain and Catalonia, as the Spanish government is insistent that the October 1 referendum not take place.

As I have said before, this could turn violent. But even if it does not, the Catalan independence referendum is revealing just how each side defines European democracy. One side appears to see it as the right to prevent others from having a say in how they are being governed. Ironically, both sides accuse the other of exactly that.

As far as media is concerned, major US news outlets are waking up to the crisis, and should we get closer to October 1 and a vote appears imminent, Spain may finally be front page news in the US and UK.

As far as Spanish media is concerned, one sees can see that it is solidly lined up against the Catalans, with many newspapers creating stories that would make Breitbart News proud.

More ominously, we are beginning to see divisions in the country that mirror the sides taken in the Spanish Civil War. The Spanish government has prevented a rally from taking place in Madrid in support of the Catalan referendum, while allowing the Falangists are being allowed to rally. No surprise then that the Spanish King has decided to weigh in on the matter (the Spanish Civil War not only to the dictatorship of Franco, but a return of the king to the throne).


Prosecutor investigates 712 Catalan mayors for collaborating with referendum

Catalonia’s public prosecutor Wednesday ordered an investigation of 712 Catalan mayors who have officially supported the Catalan referendum to be held on October 1. Local prosecuting offices will now decide whether they cite each of them, but the prosecutor ordered that in case they fail to appear on court, the Catalan police will have to arrest them and bring them to court. The top priority is investigating the most populated towns.

A court in Madrid suspended an event to support the October 1 Catalan referendum in Spain’s capital to be held this Sunday. Madrid’s local government had allowed the host organization, Madrileños por el Derecho de Decidir (Madrid residents for the right to decide), to use a municipal site for the event. However, a local court ruled that the event cannot be held in a city-owned site on the grounds that the October 1 vote has been suspended by the Spanish Constitutional Court.

La Vanguardia:

Felipe VI: “The Constitution will prevail against those who break the coexistence”

The King has guaranteed on Wednesday that the Constitution “will prevail over any bankruptcy” of ” coexistence in democracy “, and “the rights that belong to all Spaniards will be preserved” in front of “those who are outside the constitutional and statutory legality.”

“Therefore, before those who are outside the constitutional and statutory legality and fracture society, I am sure that the rights that belong to all Spaniards will be preserved and that the freedoms of all citizens will be guaranteed and protected,” continued the Monarch.

Apple’s event yesterday was, in retrospect, very odd. While the company rolled out two new iPhone models that are incremental upgrades to the iPhone 7, it was its iPhone X that CEO Tim Cook seemed to be highlighting.

The problem with that, as should be evident the next time the company reports earnings, is that the iPhone X won’t be available to even pre-order until October 27 for shipping beginning November 3.

That means that those that want to wait for the iPhone X will end up making their purchase in Q1 of Apple’s 2018 fiscal year. I think Cook knows that this might adversely effect Q4 earnings. But one thing he will want to be able to do is assure investors that pre-orders for the iPhone X are robust. You will notice that Apple picked a date, October 27, that would be about a week before the next earnings call. Cook plays to Wall Street far more than his predecessor ever did.

The Verge: Vlad Savov:

The iPhone X is the one phone where you’ll really want to wait for the review

Is it worth $999?

We have to talk about this. Smartphones as a general class, not just the iPhone, have been drifting up in price over the past couple of years as companies try to differentiate with ever more premium features (which cost more to manufacture). But this upward shift in price hasn’t been accompanied by greater peace of mind through tougher, more durable design. On the contrary, everything’s becoming more fragile, as screens flood out to cover the entire front of phones and glass envelops the rear. When was the last time you actually went a full two years with a single device and its original screen?

The iPhone X costs $999. You can get a great smartphone for half that price (the Moto Z2 Play is a good example), which will provide you with more than 90 percent of the X’s functionality, even if it might not feel quite as polished or cohesive as the Apple product. Now that Apple has switched to OLED, it’s also raising the price of its AppleCare+ extended warranty to $199, and an iPhone X screen replacement outside of Apple’s covered plan looks to be even more expensive. Think about those numbers in the context of your quotidian trudge through the concrete jungle of a large metropolis: bumping into clumsy commuters, juggling your phone and heavy bags of grocery shopping, or trying to call up a Lyft on a drunken night out.

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